Sahir Ludhainvi is many things along with a poet, he was an acclaimed lyricist, a communist sympathizer, a pro-independence poet who opposed the excess colonial-capitalistic system.
However, a significant part of Sahir as a lyricist was his inability to resort to ‘tukbandi’, the act of finding random rhyming words and filler lines to go along). While most lyricists settled with mixing and matching rhyming words to complete songs under the label of poetry.
Even before Gulzar, Sahir was the master of Urdu in Bollywood. His shayaris became the central point of Gurudutt’s poet character in the film Pyaasa.
Some of the lesser-known facts about Sahir Ludhianvi are:
Sahir named himself “Sahir”, which means a magician and added Ludhianvi because he hailed from Ludhiana.
Amrita Pritam, a famous Punjabi writer, studied with Sahir in college. Sahir loved and admired her poems. He later also fell in love with Amrita.
Sometime later in 1943, Sahir was expelled from the college. The reason for this is that Amrita’s father objected to the relationship between Sahir and Amrita because Sahir was Muslim and Amrita was a Sikh.
At 22-years-of age, Sahir published his first poetry book, Talkhian (Bitterness) in 1943. He had had a rough childhood, he was just a kid dealing with his parents’ divorce and a custody battle.
Years after his death, Sahir had an autobiography released on his life. ‘Sahir: A Literary Portrait’ (Oxford University Press) by US-based Surinder Deol, 79, looks at his life through the prism of his poetry.